Education briefs from across Idaho

New Bonneville school gets a name and mascot

IDAHO FALLS — The Bonneville School District has an official name and mascot for it’s new high school.

The East Idaho district’s board of trustees agreed to the Black Canyon Phantoms for a school planned to answer the district’s years-long struggle with overcrowding.

“We met together and hashed it out, hammered it out, and we ended up with the Black Canyon Phantoms with the colors of black, silver, and royal blue, and we couldn’t be more excited about it,” said Doug McLaren, the school’s new principal.

The district is still working on a logo of its own for the new high school

The district tweeted an image along with the announcement, but later said the actual school logo is still on the drawing board. The logo tweeted is actually from a high school in Pheonixville, Penn.

“Ours will look different,” the tweet read.

Bonneville’s new high school will have the capacity to take on an additional 1,800 students but won’t open its doors until the 2018-19 school year, which has forced the district to find alternative ways to serve its growing student body in the meantime.

“Really, the new high school can’t come soon enough,” said Bonneville Superintendent Chuck Shackett.

Shackett and other district officials ceremoniously broke ground at the new school’s construction site last month. Last November, voters approved $63.5 million in bond measures for a new school, auditorium and athletic field.

The Bonneville district has been absorbing the rapid growth of Ammon, which boarders Idaho Falls along the foothills to the east. From 2000 to 2010, Ammon’s growth rate was 123.3 percent, according to the U.S. Census; it is currently Idaho’s 17th largest city.

The district has not completed the often difficult task of drawing up boundaries for who will attend the new school.

“We will wait as long as we can on that, due to the growth taking place in the district,” Shackett said, adding that finalized maps may not be released until December of next year.

The school is located at 4928 E 1st St. in Idaho Falls, between the district’s two existing high schools.

Patrons living in the district will see a raise of $2.92 per month for every $100,000 of taxable property as a result of the project.

State Board to seek public input on school accountability in East Idaho

POCATELLO — The Idaho State Board of Education will hold two public forums to gather feedback from patrons throughout East Idaho later this month.

Forums in Idaho Falls and Pocatello will introduce the newly proposed accountability framework for measuring educational progress among public school districts, individual public schools and public charter schools throughout Idaho.unknown

The Board’s East Idaho leg of the tour will take place in the following locations:

  • September 21: 6 PM – 8 PM at the Eastern Idaho Technical College Health Care Education Building, Room 6164 1600, South 25th East in Idaho Falls
  • September 22, 2016: 6 PM – 8 PM Idaho State University Pond Student Union Building, Salmon River Suites 1065 South 5th Avenue in Pocatello


The public forums are devoted to a new system of school accountability that is under development in Idaho. Idaho has been without a school accountability system since repealing the five star rating system in 2014.

As a requirement of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states need to implement accountability systems during the 2017-18 school year that meet basic federal reporting requirements — including student proficiency results on standardized tests aligned to state standards.

Education officials in Idaho want to go a step farther and create a website called a “data dashboard” that includes multiple measures of quality and achievement.

The State Board of Education is charged with the general supervision and governance of the public educational institutions and the public school system of the State of Idaho.  To learn more about the Idaho State Board of Education, please visit

Further reading:

  • Click here for coverage of a forum held last week  in Boise.
  • Click here for the State Board of Education’s summary presentation on the new accountability model. 

Aberdeen breaks ground for new high school

ABERDEEN — The Aberdeen School District ceremoniously broke ground for its new high school this week.

“It’s a big deal for us,” said the superintendent Jane Ward. “It also gave us a chance to celebrate 100 years since our first graduating class.”

The new building is aimed at eliminating overcrowding in the current high school, which served 212 students last year.

Aberdeen district officials break ground at the site of the town’s new high school.

The current high school accommodates 25 to 27 students per class — too many for the smaller, 65-year-old classrooms, said principal Travis Pincock.

“Teachers have a hard time getting up and down the isles in their classes,” he said.

The new structure will also include a 400-seat auditorium, an auxiliary gym and an agriculture shop. The current high school gymnasium will stay, Ward said.

In May, 67 percent of Aberdeen voters approved a bond for the new building — something Ward said couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It will replace our current middle school bond, which will be paid off in August 2017,” she said, adding that voters will not see an increase in their property taxes next year.

Ward praised community members who supported the bond and the district’s effort to include stakeholders in the plans. Roughly 2,000 reside in Aberdeen, a farming town located 40 miles west of Pocatello.

“The high school is really the hub of our little community,” she said, “so it makes sense to include them as much as we can in making these kinds of decisions.”

The district assembled a “vision committee,” comprised mostly of community members, over a year ago. Members of the committee worked with architects from Hutchison and Smith, the Boise firm handling construction, to target areas of highest need, Ward said.

Pocatello-Chubbuck to buy a firetruck

POCATELLO — The Pocatello School District is beefing up it’s career-technical academy with a new firetruck.

“We’ve identified three, but we are still trying to find one short enough to get in our shop,” said career-technical administrator Rhonda Naftz. “It’s been a challenge to find something in working order and small enough to be used year-round.”

According to Naftz, the $14,000 set aside for a firetruck will help career-technical students gain a better understanding of what it takes to be a real firefighter: It gives kids something tangible to learn about and operate. Even if they can’t use it to fight actual fires, students will get a sense of the machine’s configuration and capabilities, she said.

A fire truck from the Pocatello Fire Department

A new fire truck also reflects a growing interest in career-technical fields among Pocatello students. What started out as a single elective course three years ago is now a full-functioning academy that serves kids at all three Pocatello high schools: Century, Highland and Pocatello. In its first year, the program served some 75 students. That number grew to roughly 190 last year, and surpassed 200 hundred this year.

The program’s instructor, Mark Brood, works closely with a district advisory board made up of technical professionals who help ensure that the district is up to date with its curriculum.

“This is really just one other way that we hope to give kids a really good sense of careers that they could very likely end up in one day,” said Naftz.

Juniors can apply for aerospace program

The State Department of Education is accepting applications for the Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Program. Registration is now open until Nov. 18 for high school juniors.

Students will take online classes through a NASA-developed course on space exploration through Idaho Digital Learning Academy. After completing the course the top 88 students will be invited to attend a week-long Aerospace Scholars Summer Academy session at Boise State University and a trip to the NASA Ames Center in California.

Click here to apply.

College acceptance letters go out to 20,000 seniors

Seniors at Idaho’s public high schools will start receiving the news they’ve been accepted to six or more of the state’s public colleges and universities.

Using college entrance exam scores and grade-point average information reported from students’ junior years, the Idaho State Board of Education has worked with Idaho’s higher education institutions to admit Idaho’s graduating seniors through the Direct Admissions Program.

“We’re excited to help make the decision to further one’s education a little easier and keep talented students in our state,” said Matt Freeman, Executive Director for the Idaho State Board of Education.

For more information about the acceptance letters, click here.

Schools can apply for volunteer career advisers

For Idaho school districts and charter schools that want to build or strengthen their career planning programs for students in grades 8 – 12, the Future in Action AmeriCorps Program may be for you.

AmeriCorps members are available for placement in low-income, rural schools throughout the state for the 2016-2017 school year. Each AmeriCorps member will report to the school and work in collaboration with staff to help students increase their academic aspirations and raise college and career awareness.

The application deadline is Sept. 30 by 5 p.m. Click here to apply.

Labor department needs your help

The Idaho Department of Labor is looking for three community coordinators who will help build and expand college and career advising for grades 8–12 in local communities throughout the state.

The positions are being funded through a VISTA grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The project is designed to increase the local community’s understanding of its college and career development resources. The three VISTA college and career readiness community coordinators – one each stationed in Boise, Post Falls and Pocatello – will work with area communities, state agencies and stakeholders to promote personal, community and career development for its youth population.

For more information, click here.

Otter declares September college savings month

In celebration of the 15 anniversary of IDeal, Idaho’s 529 College Saving Program, Gov. Butch Otter will declare September college savings month on Monday.

IDeal executive director, Christine Stoll will present a check for $1,500 in an IDeal savings account to a winner of an online sweepstakes.

The event will take place on Monday at 2 p.m. in the Governors ceremonial office on the second floor.

An IDeal 529 account is an investment plan that can be opened for anyone. Money invested in an IDeal account has the potential to grow and compound and Idaho taxpayers who contribute to an IDeal account can take a state tax deduction.

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He lives and works in East Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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